Hi guys, I’m Briauna and I interned with the OSU Extension Groundwater Protection and Education Program in Benton County. As I wrap up my summer internship I looked back and realized how fast it all went. It seems like I just started this internship and as I write this blog post it is my last full week. Over the summer I was able to learn so many new things through the Well Water Program and other programs within Extension. In June we prepared for all the nitrate screenings we had planned for the summer. It consisted of a lot of cutting and stamping postcards, sending out press releases, and advertising through social media.

A woman crouches down to pick blueberries to collect in a white bucket.
Briauna Herrick picking blueberries on a farm visit.

Throughout the summer I worked on a handful of different projects, one of them being research on county websites for well and septic information and another was working on the newsletter archives in the Extension Small Farms Program website. I also got to help with the Be Well project based in Jackson County. We sent out a lot of letters that we stuffed, sealed and stamped. I am really surprised I made it through the summer without getting a paper cut! Once the clinics started it just kept getting busier from there. In between the busyness of nitrate screenings, I had the opportunity to go to Blueberry Field Day at the OSU North Willamette Research and Extension Center in Aurora to learn more about the research being done there. I also helped at county fairs, and I even got to go on a farm visit with Lane County’s small farms Extension agent, Mellissa Fery.

I enjoyed getting to visit many different towns in the Willamette Valley where we held our screenings–I don’t think I have driven up and down I-5 so much in a span of three months. It was fun getting to spend a few hours in towns I hadn’t been to before and getting to know some of the people in the communities. Later this week I am holding a nitrate screening at my family’s farm in Springfield. I have been looking forward to testing water in the area I grew up in and getting to share what I have learned with my family, friends and close neighbors.

Over the course of my internship, I got to meet a lot of people and enjoyed learning from their experiences. Everyone I met involved with Extension was kind and always welcoming. I enjoyed working with Chrissy, Kelci, and Ahad over the summer and was able to learn from all of them. I am thankful for this opportunity to work with Extension and for everything I have learned over the past few months. Thank you to the people I met along the way and for this opportunity to grow.

Hello! I’m Sophia Hampton, and I’m back again to recap my summer as I head into my last week as the small farms outreach intern in Polk County. These past nine weeks have flown by, and I have learned so much. Since my last post, I’ve been continuing to manage social media pages, put together our email newsletter, and create marketing materials. I feel more confident in my graphic design abilities and have gained a new understanding of the importance of marketing and effective marketing strategies. I have really enjoyed this aspect of my internship, and I know these skills will be valuable in the future.  

Two women sit at a sign in table for an event.
Sophia (left) and heather Stiven greet attendees at the Small Farm Social. Photo by Audrey Comerford.

I’ve also gotten experience in event planning, and one of the main events that I helped put on was Small Farm Social. This was an evening for farmers in the mid-Willamette Valley to connect with each other and meet service providers. It was rewarding to go through the process of planning and preparation and have a successful event by the end of it. It was a reminder that any event takes a lot of work and energy to come to fruition. I created many of the printed and virtual marketing materials, managed our RSVP list, sent email reminders, and helped with the check-in table on the evening of the social. 

A woman draws petals on a simple line drawing of a flower.
Sophia teaches about pollination at the Polk County Fair. Photo by Hayley White.

My independent project for this internship was to come up with an activity for the Cultivating tent at the Polk County Fair, and I led an activity aimed at youth to teach about pollination. I used chalk to represent pollen and cotton balls to represent bees to show the process of pollination, and I think the kids enjoyed the interactive demonstration. I appreciated being able to connect with the community, and it was great to see the interest the public has in Extension programming and services.  

Ultimately, I’m so grateful for this summer and this internship experience. I have great respect for all those who work in Extension; they care about the people they serve, were always willing to talk to me about their journey to their current position, and are making a real and important difference in communities. I would like to especially thank Hayley White, my supervisor, for her support and guidance as they are major reasons for my wonderful experience! 

Hi, Alli Studnick here. I am coming up on the two-month mark of my internship in the OSU Extension office in Benton County with Chrissy Lucas, Extension’s groundwater quality education program coordinator in the Willamette Valley. I can say is it has been a whirlwind since I started. We have sent out over a couple thousand postcards, I learned how to do a “mail merge,” planned and prepared for events, and I’ve taught kids and talked a lot about water.  

The first week of my internship I was able to work at the Corvallis Farmers Market with the Extension small farms outreach coordinator in Benton County. We passed out N95 masks and talked to farmers about the importance of wildfire safety and respirators – since farming never stops – some workers might have to be out in the smoky conditions taking care of their crops and their evacuation plans if wildfires were to occur. I was moved and saddened by some of the stories we heard about how the smoke caused by the 2020 wildfires affected the Willamette Valley. But hearing how more prepared these farmers were was reassuring.  

Leading a water balloon activity at the Lebanon School District Summer School Program.

The mission of OSU Extension is that it hopes to engage the people of Oregon with research-based knowledge and education that strengthen communities and economies, sustain natural resources, and promote healthy families and individuals. I think that this internship goes hand-in-hand with the four themes of Extension: people, places, programs, and partnerships. In the last two months, I have been able to see how the groundwater quality education branch of Extension works with people of all ages. From playing with water balloons and teaching children about the water cycle to adults learning how to care for their septic and what type of toxins might be in their well water that can cause some major health issues. We have planned on attending 10 farmers’ markets up and down the I-5 corridor this summer to do nitrate screenings to help educate the Willamette Valley of potential nitrate in their drinking water. And finally, partnerships. Chrissy has so many different partnerships it sometimes is hard to keep up with!

 At the beginning stages of the internship, I was very timid, shy, and not confident when it came to talking to people about wells or septic systems. I wouldn’t say I am a complete expert now or totally confident with what I am saying. But I feel like I have gotten better, and learned what to say, what information or hand-outs to give, or when to say, “Let me give you my supervisor’s number.” Chrissy and I have chatted a lot, and I have asked her about the challenging times she had in this career. I know I can’t be the best right off the bat like I would want to be. But I can surely learn from my mistakes and grow from there. I have learned that an Extension agent’s job isn’t always a walk in the park. It is a lot of emails, meetings, and phone calls. Not to mention all the program planning they have to do. I have learned that this job requires some hard work, is a very fast-paced job, and most days are never boring. But this job is very satisfying and every interaction you have with someone about something important like their health, makes me feel like I am making a difference.  

I only have two more weeks left in my internship before I head back to school to begin my master’s program, but my placement area for the program is going to be groundwater quality education. I will be able to keep learning with Chrissy and working with the community well after my time in my Extension summer internship!